RC VEHICLE TROUBLESHOOT GUIDE
Hi and welcome to Aussie Hobbies RC Vehicle Troubleshoot page. We have put together this page in the hope of helping you. Many of you reading this may already know a lot of the information we will share, so we are aiming this more towards the novice RC Vehicle owners out there.
Entering the world of RC (Remote Controlled) Vehicles is easier than ever. There are tons of different varieties out there from Drift cars, Mini Z’s, Rock Crawlers, Monster Trucks, Baja’s Petrol Run, Nitro Run, Brushed or Brushless, Etc etc…….
Eventually the inevitable will happen. A crash maybe or something breaks, or maybe something has come loose? Or just general wear and tear can cause problems. Knowing what to do may help you save on costly repairs.
First, it is handy to have some Basic Tools. Everyone from a beginner to an experienced enthusiast will need to have some basic tools for when you do need to repair your Rc Vehicle.
We have put together a Basic List of Tools to help you get started.
- Pointy Nose Pliers
- Hex Wrenches – Recommended Sizes are (metric) 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm and 3mm. For standard (inches) its .050”, 1/16”, 3/32” and 5/64”.
- Phillips Head Screwdriver – A number 1 and 2 should be all you need.
- Flat Head Screwdriver.
- Remember – With the Phillips and Flathead Screwdrivers, look for one’s that have an extra long shaft, this will make reaching the “Hard to Reach Parts” much easier.
- Box Cutters.
- Hobby Knife.
- Cross Wrench.
- Camber Gauge.
- Conical Knife.
- Soldering Iron kit and Wire.
- Multi Meter.
- Servo Tester.
These are the Basic Tools needed to get you out of trouble, each of these tools will make your RC repair much easier.
It is important to look after your RC Vehicle, this helps avoid major issues. So, what if a problem arises with your RC, can you fix it on your own?
A large part of owning an RC Vehicle is knowing how to solve and repair any basic problems that can occur. We are going to help you Troubleshoot and hopefully fix some common issues that can be easily repaired by you, at home.
Ok, first let us rule out any Basic Problems first.
- Are the batteries installed correctly and charged?
- Is the antenna (if one) completely extended?
- Is your RC Vehicle turned on?
- Is your Remote turned on?
- Is your RC Vehicle and remote set to the same channel? (some remotes do not have a channel option)
- Check you haven’t accidently picked up the wrong remote. (Do not worry, this can happen if you own a few RC Vehicles).
All checked? Now Let us make sure it is not an Electronic Problem.
One of the most common problems with any RC Device is electronic issues. There are a couple of things we can check. Is there an open circuit? An electronic circuit must be closed so the electric current can flow through. Check anywhere the circuit may be open by checking the circuit board first. Check that all the connections trace back to the motor, servo and the battery. Be sure to check the full length of the wires for any exposed areas. Any exposed wire could be a reason your RC Vehicle is not working. Strip and re-solder any problem wire close to the circuit board (if possible) so the electric current can flow once again.
Let's Troubleshoot some common mechanical issues.
The first thing we suggest you check is the servo. When you turn the steering, can you hear the servo operating, but nothing on your RC Vehicle is moving?
This is usually a mechanical fault, (a broken part or a stripped servo horn for example). Check over your RC Vehicle and see if anything is broken or come loose. Also check for any stripped parts.
If you can’t hear the servo working, grab a servo tester (if you have one), connect the servo tester to the servo lead and turn the dial on the tester, if nothing happens then I would say your servo needs replacing.
If your servo tested ok, but you still have no steering it could possibly be a faulty receiver or remote. The only real way to solve this problem is to replace the remote. In most cases this will repair the problem.
Check over all the mechanical aspects of your RC Vehicle. When turning the wheels make sure the drive line operates and the motor gear turns. If the motor gear does not turn, it could possibly be a mechanical problem like a stripped gear.
If your RC Vehicle is Brushed –
Check to see if the light on the speed controller flickers or changes while operating the throttle. If the light does flicker or change, put a multi meter on the motor wires and see if it shows any voltage on the wires as you operate the throttle (anything over 4v indicates normal operation). If the Multi Meter shows low voltage (under 4v) then replacing the motor should fix the problem. If NO voltage is showing on the wires, make sure the remote is set to 0, if it is at zero it is normally a faulty esc and will most likely require replacing.
If your RC Vehicle is Brushless –
Check to see if any lights flicker or change on the esc when operating the throttle. Unfortunately, there is no way to check for voltage on brushless RC Vehicles. The motors do not normally fail, it is usually the esc. If re-calibrating does not fix the problem, then generally it is a esc fault and will require replacing. I know this does not seem helpful but, there is no other way to test.
Your RC Vehicle has no Range with the Remote.
Ok, let’s check to see if the antenna wire for the remote is damaged. If the end is snapped or frayed the range will be reduced to about 10m total. A replacement remote is the only way to fix the problem.
Sometimes due to a poor quality Lipo not being able to handle the discharge rate can cause problems – your RC Vehicle hits the lipo cut off even though the battery is not flat. This is not very common but, can happen. It can also be a bad battery connection.
If it is not the lipo or the connection, it could be overheating. Is there any smell of burning hot metal after 10 – 15min of hard running? You may need to gear the RC Vehicle down to make it easier on the motor.
You have a Battery Won’t Charge Error or Voltage Error.
Sometimes you can run the battery flat and your charger won’t detect your battery. Lipo batteries should not go below 3 volts per cell, otherwise they become damaged and your charger will not charge your battery. You can try fixing this by replacing your battery. Other methods (like trying to bump up the voltage can be risky and cause a fire! so we won't recommend that approach).
Your RC Vehicle is only powering Two or Three Wheels.
This is most likely caused by something coming loose. On most RC Vehicles they have Centre Drive Shaft Cups, that use grub screws to lock them on. Check the grub screws are tight, if one comes lose you will lose all drive to the other end.
Your grub screws are tight, then it is normally caused by a wheel nut coming loose. If a wheel nut becomes loose, the wheel hex can spin inside the wheel and round out the hex screw (loose the hex shape). This will cause a loss of all drive to both wheels at the end, as the power will unload into the axle that no longer has resistance. If your hex screw has become rounded you will need to replace it.
Please note: Any Baja Servo problems are the same process as above.
Your Baja won’t start.
This could be a few things. Check your Pull Starter. See if it has much compression. If it doesn’t, check the air filter and make sure the engine hasn’t sucked in a heap of dust and or dirt. If it has sucked in dust and or dirt, then you will need to replace your motor. It is cheaper and more cost effective to replace the entire motor than it is to re-build – it is entirely your choice.
Your Pull Starter has compression. Then let’s check the spark plug. Make sure the spark plug has spark. Undo the spark plug and plug it into the plug boot and hold it against the head while pulling the starter – see if you can see any spark.
No spark – try a different spark plug.
Still no spark – you will need to replace the coil.
If you have spark and your Baja still won’t start, it could be caused by carby issues. The only way to test for this is to put a new carby on your Baja and see if that fixes the problem. If you still have trouble starting your Baja, then the bore may be damaged. You can check this by pulling the head off the bore and making sure there is no scoring. If there is scoring you will require a new head kit and piston.
Your Baja starts but won’t move forward.
Let’s check a few things.
- Check to see if the screws that hold the backing plate in place near the brakes hasn’t rattled out and pushed up against the brake pads – which will lock the wheels up.
- Check and make sure the spur gear isn’t stripped. If it is it will need replacing.
- Check the clutch and or spring to make sure there is no wear or damage. A worn or damaged clutch and or spring will need replacing.
- Check the dog bones. Make sure a pin hasn’t broken or been spat out. If it has then you will need to replace the dog bones.
If your Baja still won’t budge. Then generally it can be an issue inside the gear box. The only way to problem solve this is to disassemble the gear box and inspect the gears. If you choose to disassemble the gear box yourself, make sure to take photos of your steps so you can easily re-assemble the gear box. Take the gears/gear box to an RC Tech to inspect/repair the gear box out of the RC Vehicle.
Your Baja is running rough.
This could be due to a fuel or carby issue. Check the fuel filter inside the tank and make sure it isn’t blocked up – clean it if it is. Check the vent hole on the fuel cap is open and finally check your fuel and two stroke oil. High quality fuel and two stroke oil is better for overall performance.
Bolts rattling lose.
Two stroke engines vibrate quite a lot and screws have a habit of coming lose. You can use engine bolts, also using rtv gasket goo on the threads help. Anything that does not get affected by heat can have locktite applied.
We hope you find this information helpful, From the Team @ Aussie Hobbies.
If you are still experiencing problems with your RC Vehicle after trying out the troubleshoot guide, then you may need to take your RC Vehicle to an experienced RC Technician.